Suni Lee Says She’s ‘Still Healing’ From Sudden Fame And Pressure

U.S. gymnast Suni Lee mentioned this week she’s nonetheless therapeutic from a bout of tension and self-doubt after profitable the ladies’s all-around gold medal on the Tokyo Olympics.

Lee was already a family title when she turned a scholar at Auburn College final yr, however the weight of expectations threatened her first school gymnastics season to the purpose that she informed her coach, “I can’t do this.” She even questioned whether or not she deserved to win in Tokyo, attributing the negativity to “impostor syndrome.”

“I’m just letting my mind heal and my body heal still, because my life did change overnight and I definitely didn’t expect it,” she informed HuffPost. “So when everything started coming at me, I put a lot of pressure on myself toward the end of the season. Now I’m going in with a fresh mindset. Because when I just go out and do what I normally do, I am unstoppable.”

If the 19-year-old feels like she’s into self-affirmations, effectively, she is. She admits the apply sounds “cheesy” ― however writing and vocalizing positivity has helped. She reminds herself to maintain her “keywords” on the prepared.

“There’s no need to be, I guess, shy about talking about your goals, because if you start saying something enough, you believe it,” she added.

Suni Lee competes on the uneven bars in the course of the NCAA championships.

C. Morgan Engel through Getty Photographs

Lee, who additionally received Olympic silver within the staff occasion and a bronze on the uneven bars, completed her collegiate season on a excessive word. She turned the NCAA champion on the steadiness beam and took second within the all-around.

The gymnast has already begun fall lessons and getting ready for her sophomore season whereas juggling interviews on behalf of Invisalign. She mentioned the teeth-aligner model approached her after she acquired common braces and she or he is now a person. Coincidentally, she mentioned, she requested her dad and mom for Invisalign when she was youthful as a result of she was “too insecure to smile or talk” and was informed the household didn’t manage to pay for.

Suni Lee attends the 2022 ESPYs in Hollywood.
Suni Lee attends the 2022 ESPYs in Hollywood.

Momodu Mansaray through Getty Photographs

As for specifics on her potential Olympics future on the 2024 Paris Video games, Lee’s representatives informed HuffPost earlier than her interview that she most popular to not focus on the subject (together with an assault final yr wherein she mentioned she was pepper-sprayed and referred to as racial slurs.) However NBC Sports activities just lately reported that Lee attended a USA Gymnastics nationwide staff camp in July and “plans to return to elite gymnastics competition at some point ahead of” the Video games.

Lee’s profile stays excessive within the Hmong neighborhood, an ethnic group from Vietnam, Laos and components of China. Her house state of Minnesota has the best focus of Hmong within the nation.

“The Hmong community is so small, for them to have a role model to kind of lead the way for them is cool,” she mentioned.

Earlier this yr, nonetheless, she felt betrayed when some in her neighborhood criticized her for courting a Black man, USC soccer participant Jaylin Smith. “It was not the reaction I expected,” she recalled.

“I guess I just realized that people will always have an opinion on what you do, and I think I just let it get to me,” she mentioned. “I couldn’t just stay quiet. I felt like because I have such a big voice in the community that it’s important to address it, because I know a lot of Hmong people aren’t going to be happy about it … but I know that a lot of younger Hmong people are in the same boat that I am.”

Suni Lee throws out the first pitch at a Minnesota Twins game in August.
Suni Lee throws out the primary pitch at a Minnesota Twins sport in August.

Brace Hemmelgarn through Getty Photographs